Coca-cola: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, video clip culture, that is.
In June, Coca-cola dismissed the Diet Coke & Mentos videos as “an entertaining phenomenon," saying "We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it." The company found the "craziness with Mentos ... doesn't fit with the brand personality" of Diet Coke.
One month later, the "craziness" was viewed as harmless, and potentially lucrative.
Coca-cola explains its about face in a tongue-in-cheek presentation, “Products and Packaging Myths and Rumors”:
A rumor has been circulating the Internet that a boy has died in Brazil from eating Mentos and drinking Coca-Cola light. This is a hoax, most likely triggered by the well-known "Diet Coke/Mentos fountain phenomenon." This story is not true; Appears to be linked to a number of amateur videos that have appeared on the Internet, which show people, for fun, mixing Mentos candies with Coca-Cola light (or Diet Coke) to produce a reaction that causes the Diet Coke to shoot into the air. This reaction is thought to be caused by carbon dioxide (which gives carbonated soft drinks their fizz) permeating the porous surface of the Mentos.
The Company has capitalized on the popularity of this harmless stunt and has launched a contest that is based on it.
In June 2006, a video clip produced by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz began circulating on the internet that showcased an elaborate demonstration of the reaction that occurs when Mentos brand candies are dropped into bottles of Diet Coke. The video, created through an acting troupe called EepyBird, created an immediate online sensation and has since been viewed millions of times. There was no Company involvement in that video.
In July 2006, the Company re-launched www.coca-cola.com as its new Coca-Cola brand site. The new site features user generated content driven by regular challenges that invite consumers to post their own videos in response to creative “briefs” that outline a particular theme. The videos are judged and prizes awarded to winners.
Given the strategic direction of the new website, the Company entered into a sponsorship agreement with the producers of the video to create a new video which is more elaborate. The Company has featured the new video on its site along with a challenge asking consumers to create their own video around the theme of “Poetry in Motion.” The challenge is not asking people to recreate the Diet Coke and Mentos video. The video will also be available on Google Video and the producers’ site and will include post-roll advertising and banner advertising driving viewers to Coke.com (see “Showing on Google Video, not YouTube (yet)”).
John Stichweh, Director, Global Interactive Marketing, Coca Cola Company, has said of the Google Video/Coca-Cola deal, ““How many more cases of Coke am I selling? I don’t know” (see “Coca-Cola: Will Google Sponsored Video really sell cases of Coke?”).
Speaking at an Ad-Tech panel last month, Stichweh put forth that Web 2.0 marketing spends do not provide a “measurable link to sales” and noted the difficulty of evaluating the incremental benefits of consumer generated media investment and of justifying the ROI from a shareholder’s perspective.
Coca-cola is nevertheless determined to exploit the “entertaining phenomenon” to the fullest; It is now collaborating with Google’s other video site, YouTube, in "video greeting cards for the holidays":
It is the latest evolution in the development of Coca-Cola.com following the re-launch of the site in July 2006 that included user-generated content and the addition of digital music downloads in August. We continue to give people new ways to express themselves and connect with others online. Partnering with YouTube helps us bring creative content to a broader community.
For the first time people will be able to send their own personal videos as a holiday greeting card online. Visitors can share their holiday spirit by uploading their own videos, customizing video greetings created by popular YouTube personalities, Geriatric1927, Boh3m3, TerraNaomi, Renetto, TheWineKone and LisaNova, or sharing holiday-themed videos from Coca-Cola including clips from vintage Coke advertisements. Select video greetings that users have chosen to share with the world will be featured as part of a video playlist on Coca-Cola.com called the Holiday WishCast and will be seen by people around the world.